In advance of the 2020 NBA Draft, Peachtree Hoops is evaluating prospects with a look at what the Atlanta Hawks might be considering from now until the selection process occurs. Dozens of prospects will be profiled in this space and, this time, we break down Creighton guard Ty-Shon Alexander.
The search for quality role players is ongoing in NBA circles, particularly for teams attempting to build around established stars. As such, prospects without star upside can be attractive at a certain point in the NBA Draft, particularly in the case of players who can contribute in a variety of ways.
Creighton guard Ty-Shon Alexander fits that mold and does so beautifully. The 6’4, 195-pound Alexander projects as a “3-and-D” combo guard at the professional level, though he actually carried a substantial workload during his final season with the Bluejays.
Alexander, who turned 22 years old in July, finished as a first team All-Big East selection in 2019-20 after averaging 16.9 points and 5.0 rebounds per game on quality efficiency. Though Alexander almost certainly won’t act as a primary offensive option in the NBA, he is an accomplished prospect that turned heads during his third season at Creighton, rising on draft boards in the process.
Offensively, Alexander’s biggest appeal to NBA teams is his long-distance shooting. He converted 38 percent of his three-point attempts over his final two college season, and Alexander was able to get shots up at substantial volume. He attempted 469 three-pointers in those two campaigns, translating to 12.3 attempts per 100 possessions.
Though Alexander may not be a game-changing shooter, his mechanics appear to be strong and the volume is such where it is safe to believe in him as a long-range threat. That is critical for Alexander, especially in an off-ball role, as he does not profile as an incredibly dynamic creator for himself and others.
Alexander’s career 14.2 percent assist rate is reasonable, though relatively underwhelming for a combo guard-sized prospect. He does take care of the ball, however, as Alexander posted a 10.7 percent turnover rate in the last two years and only an 8.7 percent turnover rate in 2019-20.
Elsewhere, Alexander is only a 47 percent career shooter on two-point attempts, and he doesn’t put a great deal of pressure on the rim as a downhill creator and finisher. On the plus side, Alexander maintains solid-or-better overall efficiency, with a 56.8 percent career true shooting mark and a 59.2 percent mark in 2019-20.
Most of that success can be attributed to his three-point marksmanship, as Alexander attempted 57 percent of his shots from long range. Because he was able to convert three-pointers at a high level, his efficiency saw an uptick and, given that his NBA role will likely follow that model, it is easier to project what his efficiency could resemble. In addition, Alexander was excellent in spot-up situations, ranking in the 84th percentile per Synergy, and he was in the 89th percentile as a cutter and the 77th percentile in catch-and-shoot situations.
Though Alexander’s three-point shooting is a significant plus when it comes to his overall projection, the defensive side is perhaps his calling card. He was one of the more effective on-ball defenders in the nation as a junior, and Alexander is excellent in terms of positioning. He moves his feet well, takes advantage of a solid frame for a combo guard, and puts pressure on smaller offensive players with tenacity at the point of attack.
He does not profile as a Marcus Smart-level brick wall in terms of strength, but Alexander was able to flash enough resistance to make his relatively thin frame less of a concern. There were a few instances in which elite creators were able to win against Alexander but, in the grand scheme, he projects as a plus defender that can hold up against both guard spots. He is quick enough to use his length to deter point guards and, while Alexander isn’t going to be a dynamic defender against 6’8 wings, he can credibly defend the lion’s share of NBA shooting guards.
As a team defender, Alexander is solid, though unspectacular. He makes the correct reads, is usually in the right place and has enough anticipation to make some plays. Alexander posted a 2.1 percent steal rate over the last two seasons, using quick hands to generate “events” defensively, but his on-ball strength likely outpaces his overall effectiveness as an off-ball deterrent.
Alexander does have a sweetener in that he is effective on the defensive glass, especially when accounting for his size and role. As a junior, he posted a 14.5 percent defensive rebound rate and, overall, Alexander grabbed 8.3 rebounds per 100 possessions. That isn’t a defining skill by any means, but it is a check mark in his favor that Alexander is willing to mix it up on the glass.
Broadly speaking, Alexander is highly enticing as a role player, though some evaluators aren’t buying his upward trajectory in full. Currently, Alexander ranks as the No. 81 available prospect for ESPN, essentially projecting him as a potential Two-Way consideration or even a step below that. He ranks at No. 56 for Sam Vecenie of The Athletic, putting him firmly in a range to be drafted, but also on the periphery when considering how volatile the bottom half of the second round can be.
It is worth noting that, at 22, Alexander is older than many prospects available in the 2020 class, and he certainly doesn’t appear to bring star upside. However, Alexander is a highly intriguing role player prospect and, at present, he remains underrated.
Broadly speaking, Alexander is a top-40 player available, at least in the view of this writer, and he would be an enticing fit with the No. 50 overall pick. Given the uncertainty near the bottom of any draft, it is tough to fully project where Alexander might land but, when envisioning a role in Atlanta or elsewhere, Alexander can shoot at a high level, defend two positions, make strong decisions on both ends, and avoid taking anything off the table.
In short, that package of traits is exceptionally appealing in the second round of a largely underwhelming 2020 NBA Draft.